Last night, President Biden delivered a prime-time address to the country from Independence Hall, warning that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” and then he talked about the importance of national unity and the need to “respect our legitimate political differences.”
One moment, Biden would warn that MAGA Republicans:
promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country. . . . [they’re] determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.
The next moment, Biden would emphasize that, “I’m asking our nation to come together, to unite. . . . We, the people, will not let anyone or anything tear us apart.”
He warned that “MAGA Republicans” are “working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself. . . . MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.”
Then, after warning that “MAGA Republicans” represented this dire and worsening threat and that “equality and democracy are under assault,” Biden further denounced them for being too dark and pessimistic in their vision of America: “MAGA Republicans look at America and see carnage and darkness and despair. They spread fear and lies — lies told for profit and power.”
Every few sentences, Biden contradicted what he’d said a few moments before. If he had delivered this speech about the leaders of China or Russia or Iran or transnational Islamist terrorist groups, last night’s speech would be universally praised as a rousing rallying cry and metaphorical call to arms against a dangerous enemy. But in this speech, the enemy is . . . other American citizens.
Also, he wants to unite the country.
Make no mistake, last night’s speech wasn’t just a denunciation of Trump; Biden mentioned Trump three times. “There is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country,” he said. This was a continuation of the Andrew Cuomo/Kathy Hochul/Charlie Crist argument that it’s not just the opposing candidate who is worthy of contempt, but those who voted for the opposing candidate.